Shea Williams’ Blog Series: The Three Stages of Stepping Down
About a fortnight ago I completed my almost four years of being the first ever Young Deputy Mayor of my borough. I had mixed feelings about it ending – relief, acceptance, regret – and a hint of fear,
Four years is a very long time! I started in 2018 (year 10) and have finished in my gap year. In that time, I completed both GCSE’s and A-Levels, survived a pandemic, changed schools, started a new internship, started university hunting, and changed my hair about 300 times. Not to mention that I’m not physically in the same spaces as young people anymore, where I can hear their opinions every day. It’s a huge relief that I can finally step down and allow some new blood into the role.
Leadership is also quite stressful. Knowing that you represent a whole borough (and it just so happened my borough had the largest number of young people in London) is quite a weight to carry. At all the meetings, conferences and events I attended, I was not representing my own views, but the views of 95,000 others. I wouldn’t say I felt the pressure at the time of those individual events, but it was always in the back of my mind. With that, the relief comes from me finally being able to make myself a priority for one of the first times. Voicing the voiceless is an amazing, necessary thing to do, but I am glad I can take a break from doing it on such a large scale for a while.
I would say year 10 is where you really start to think about who you are and what you want to be as a person. Having that role from so early on in my life made it a core part of my identity- and so did others. “Miss Mayor” was my nickname for a very long time. Of course, it was never mine to keep but now that part has just… disappeared. Who am I without that role? That title? My ‘so tell me about yourself’ safety net? Even my LinkedIn profile bio!
I joke about the latter, but I had a hint of apprehension regarding my next steps. All without realising my next phase had already begun; I was doing an amazing internship, and on track to going to the University of my dreams.
So, as I exhaled relief, I also inhaled some fear. But that’s all part of growth, just my next step in life.
You do not miss the water until the well runs dry. Something you hear all the time but need to experience it in order to fully understand it. There were a lot of times where I complained about how slow something was taking to be approved, the cancelled meetings with councillors, the awkward timings of meetings where I’d have to rush from school to get to on time – but it is only now do I realise how much has been accomplished and how amazing this role was. From the planning and facilitation of a careers fair to the more tangible perks- free entry to festivals, freebies here and there — it has been a blast. And I look back now and wonder if I fully embraced all the good rather than looking at the bad.
The truth is I will never stop representing or shining my light on the world, I never needed a title for that. I represent my family wherever I go. Although I am no longer in compulsory education I will never stop advocating for young people’s rights; and to be honest the burden of representation automatically comes with being a Black woman in the UK. The next step is solidifying who I am intrinsically. I’ve loved and will always cherish my tenure as the Young Deputy Mayor, but there is a season for everything. This was just a very, very long extended season.
Shea joins the Global Learning London team as a Project Assistant, supporting on a host of work including co-facilitating on our Anti-Racist Curriculum and supporting our digital marketing.